|Here I am standing upon the very modern promenade, aka The Bund, that hugs Shanghai's Huangpo River and overlooks the Pudong district across the way. The architecture in Shanghai is stunning and futuristic.
John and I are currently bopping about China where I am writing a feature story for the magazine on this fabulous, crazy, quickly changing, clunky, funky, modern-meets-primitive country. And I am loving every minute of it.
There have been some wacky, lost-in-translation moments: Like the time we asked for a menu and received a plate of mayonnaise. Or the taxi driver who brought us to three hotels before he realized we wanted to go to the Park Hyatt and not the Hilton nor the Marriott. The expats living in China call it, “TIC.” Chalk it up to, “This is China (TIC).” But more on all that in the next installment.
Our first stop on the trip was Shanghai, and the city is a stunner. Perched upon the Huangpu River, Shanghai reminds me of the classic sci-fi film Blade Runner thanks to its towering skyscrapers emblazoned with dramatic light displays that advertise everything from the latest VW car to Bulgari jewelry. John and I checked into the very chic Peninsula Shanghai perched upon the historic Bund, and we wandered the beautifully manicured and sprawling promenade that runs along the Huangpu River. The Bund was the center of Shanghai action back in early 20th century, and the area is jam-packed with historic, Art Deco-detailed buildings.
Across the river from the Bund sits the shockingly modern Pudong district with its massive towers reaching skywards. There’s the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the bottle opener-like, massively tall Park Hyatt hotel, and neon-lit corporate logos splashed here and there that hawk everything from McDonald’s to Citibank.
|In Shanghai, turn a corner and there's an amazing contrast between the old and the new. Check out this juxtaposition of historic architecture with skyscrapers that rise in the distance.
Step back a few blocks off the Bund and you return to the China of yore with laundry dangling precariously overhead and streets that twist and turn and food being cooked on charcoal grills. Turn a corner, and you enter a gorgeously landscaped park that leads to a massive boulevard punctuated with glass-wrapped towers sprouting fanciful tops—from lotus-like fringe to UFO-like revolving lounges and needles that puncture the clouds.
And then there’s the nearby French Concession neighborhood with its colonial-era homes juxtaposed against al fresco shopping streets packed with sidewalk cafes and branches of Tiffany & Co., Harry Winston, H&M, Coach, Apple and Hermès.
As I have wandered through this stunning, wildly transforming city, my eyes have been wide open like a kid in a candy store.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for me on the trip has been the lack of Facebook and Twitter access. After all, this is a Communist country where websites and social media portals are vigilantly monitored. While Western papers report the fall of a Communist party official and Tibet protests, the Chinese papers boast a front-page article that discusses complaints from the women of Beijing about their difficulty finding a well-fitting bra.
I am missing my Facebook updates and Tweets, but I will certainly check out the brassiere scene once we reach Beijing.